Troops in Afghanistan to get updated Blue Force Tracking system

The Army is getting ready to send an updated version of its digital force-locating technology to ground forces in Afghanistan, according to a story on the Army's website. 

The next-generation Blue Force Tracking 2 (BFT 2) is a satellite network that displays in real-time the location of friendly forces on a digital map presented on a display screen. BFT 2 improvements include greater data throughput and improved transceivers that shorten the time it takes the network to refresh information, the story said.

"BFT 2 provides more bandwidth which allows the system to update the blue picture much more often," LTC Bryan Stephens, BFT 2 product manager, said in the story. "The resulting increased volume of traffic improves accuracy of moving platforms by a factor of 10."

One of the advanced features of BFT-2 is that it can receive and transmit data at the same time, a feature not available in the previous version, the story said. This allows for faster updates as combat unfolds.

BFT 2 is integrated with a force-tracking system called Joint Battle Command - Platform (JBC-P), which employs next-generation mapping technology, chat and messaging capability along with a graphical interface to deliver location information to units on the move by placing icons over a digital map display, the story said.

JBC-P, which combines position location information for Army and Marine Corps units, can be integrated into vehicle displays or handheld mobile units for the dismounted soldier, the story said. The battle command system is integrated with the Nett Warrior program, a situational awareness technology for dismounted units on the move which uses smart-phone like devices and software-programmable radio.

The Army already has fielded BFT 2 for U.S. Army forces in Korea. Units in Afghanistan will receive BFT 2 in the coming months, according to the story.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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